19. In the cornfield on the sabbath
AT that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the cornfields; and his disciples were a hungered, and began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat, rubbing them with their hands.
But certain of the Pharisees said unto Jesus, Behold, why do thy disciples on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? Jesus said unto them,
Have ye never read so much as this: what David did, when himself was a hungered, and had need, he, and they which were with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them which were with him, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but for the priests alone?
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
¶On another sabbath, Jesus entered into the synagogue and taught.
There was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and Pharisees watched Jesus, whether he would heal on the sabbath day. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man,
Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.
He arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them,
I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? to save life, or to destroy it?
But thy held their peace. And Jesus said,
What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
When Jesus had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man,
Stretch forth thine hand.
He did so: and his hand was restored whole, like as the other.
¶The Pharisees were filled with madness; they went forth, and straightaway took counsel with the Herodians what they might do to Jesus.
Jesus knew it: he withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
¶Jesus goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came. He ordained twelve, whom also he named apostles, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.
¶The scribes said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils. Jesus said unto them in parables,
How can Satan cast out Satan?
And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
Because they said, he hath an unclean spirit.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest: and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
Scripture: Matthew 12:1-8
Meditation 1 of 2:
What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom: In their hunger, David and his men ate of the holy bread offered in the Temple. Jesus also quoted of the Sabbath work involved in worship in the Temple. This kind of work was usually double the work of worship on weekdays. Jesus then quotes from the prophet Hosea (6:6): I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. While the claims of ritual sacrifice are important to God, mercy and kindness in response to human need are even more important. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord’s Day?
“Lord, make us to walk in your way: ‘Where there is love and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance; where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor annoyance; where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice; where there is peace and contemplation, there is neither care nor restlessness; where there is the fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter; where there is mercy and prudence, there is neither excess nor harshness’; this we know through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)
Scripture: Matthew 12:9-14
Meditation 2 of 2:
What is God’s intention for the commandment, keep holy the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8; Deut. 5:12)? The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God’s law. They were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God. Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life. Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day, to commemorate God’s work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection. Taking “our sabbath rest” is a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us. Such “rest” however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor. If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Do you honor the Lord in the way you celebrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day and in the way you treat you neighbor?
“Lord, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.”